There’s a lot to like about PNW’s third try at the Range Handlebar. It’s shaped very nicely and it absorbs an impressive level of chatter for an alloy bar. The handlebar is well-priced too but the lack of rise options may put off some potential buyers.
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PNW’s focus with the Range Handlebar Gen 3 is ergonomics and comfort. The brand has also recognized that bikes are getting longer so the new bar has been designed to reduce back discomfort along with wrist fatigue that's common with lengthier rigs.
To hit those points, the Range Handlebar comes with a healthy 10° of backsweep, a 5° upsweep and a 30mm rise. PNW says that this shape puts your arms and shoulders in a more relaxed position. Furthering the brand’s pursuit of comfort, the bar is made using 2014 aluminium as it reckons that the metal closely resembles carbon fibre’s ability to absorb trail chatter while keeping cost low and durability high.
There are a few options available before you purchase the bar. On test, we’ve got the 31.8mm clamp diameter but there’s a 35mm version on offer and in classic PNW style, there’s a bunch of colours to pick from. As standard, the bar comes in an 800mm width.
Against the older Gen 2 bar, it’s claimed that the Gen 3 has lost 25g through messing around with the bar’s butting profiles. Either way, it weighs in at 311g on my scales, which is 3g lighter than the claimed weight of 314g.
Installation of the bar is pretty straightforward. It’s got just enough markers, or at least reference points, to get both the bar and everything you’ll hang off it in line, and spaced how you prefer.
Though, having uninstalled the bar some of the cool graphics show signs of damage where my brakes have been clamped. However, when I bung the bars back onto the bike, I’ll know exactly where my controls will go.
I’ve found that the shape works really well for me, thanks to its backsweep and rise as it sits you up on the bike more. Then, when out of the saddle, the handlebar gives your weight a bit of a rearward bias. If your bike is a long’un, this design is great as it stops you from putting too much weight through your wrists and puts you in a better, more comfortable position that’s more forgiving on your back.
The one thing that I think is most impressive about the Range Gen 3, other than its price, is the level of flex built-in. For an alloy bar, it’s super pliable, so much so that you can see the flex as you put weight through it. On the trail, this results in a load of control but it also effectively staves off arm pump.
As you're charging through tech and trail obstacles, the flex is totally unnoticeable but you will notice how much longer you've been riding without your wrists cramping up.
£53 is a very respectable price tag for a handlebar, especially when it’s not a run of the mill bar. Though, what it lacks against competitor offerings are rise options. If your bike has quite a tall headtube and you're looking to get the cockpit as low as possible, that takes the Range bar out of the running because there aren't any options with a shorter rise. However, this bar is designed more around longer bikes where riders might want to raise the cockpit for comfort.
To compare, a great example is the Nukeproof Horizon V2 Alloy Riser Bar, (we tested the carbon version here) which will set you back £65. It’s made from a sturdier 7075 alloy and with a 25mm rise it’s claimed to weigh in at 290g but it gets three rise options, a 12mm, 25mm and 38mm rise. This will allow you to tailor your sought after riding position to your bike. Although the Horizon V2 uses a stiffer alloy so it won’t soak up the chatter as well.
To compare against a bar that makes use of special vibration-reducing tech, there’s Spank’s Spike 800 Race Vibrocore Riser Bar. This one comes in three rises, 15mm, 30mm and 50mm and benefits from Spank’s Vibrocore tech that’s designed to dampen trail chatter. That is priced at £90, though.
If you’re looking for a comfortably shaped handlebar that absorbs a good chunk of trail chatter, it's very, very tough to go wrong with the PNW Range Handlebar Gen 3. However, if a 30mm rise doesn’t work for you, you’ll be forced to look elsewhere.